The always-fascinating EconTalk podcast had as its guest on January 18 “sneakerhead” Josh Luber of Campless.com, a site dedicated to tracking the secondary market in sneakers. There is a thriving market on Ebay and other sites in sneakers, particularly Nike basketball shoes. Just about every week, Nike releases small production runs of sneaker models to stores like Athlete’s Foot. They are intended to be collectible: maybe unique color combinations, or maybe a new run of a popular older model. People line up outside shoe stores in malls across the country every Saturday morning, trying to get a pair. They almost always resell them, sometimes for many times the already-inflated MSRP. The market is larger than you might think: in 2014, more than 125,000 individual resellers made more than $1.2 billion in profits over and above the retail price of the shoes.
And, of course, every year Nike releases the newest model of Air Jordans, and the same thing happens: hundreds of thousands sell out very quickly for full retail, and many of those also end up in the secondary market, selling for two to five times the retail price.
Listening to the discussion of sneakers made me think about trade secrets, an aspect of intellectual property law I haven’t discussed here before. Idaho’s intellectual property laws include a version of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, which allows owners of trade secrets some means of protecting them.